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Columbia residents, consultants discuss city's future

Sofie Rasmussen

Columbia residents had a chance to weigh in on another round of recommendations for what development  in downtown Columbia should look like at a public forum at City Hall Thursday night.

Consultants, hired by the city, discussed the second of three models concerning development in the city. It included suggestions to limit building heights, make the city more walkable and change parking areas.

Mary Madden is one of the consultants from Clarion Associates LLC that is working on the recommendations. She says she's not surprised many of the 30 or so people that attended the public hearing Thursday were concerned about parking.

“Americans today own cars. So we have to try to balance providing enough parking for people who do have cars, but not trying to provide so much parking that actually it encourage more and more people to bring more cars downtown Columbia," Madden said.

Around 30 citizens participated in the public meeting and had many comments and questions. Columbia Community Development Director Tim Teddy found the audience very engaged around the idea of developing Columbia.

“It says something about our citizens’ dedication to civic affairs that they will come out on a cold night. It shows a pattern of caring and concern that energizes us as employees of the city,” Teddy said.

The first model presented earlier this year was about rezoning districts in Columbia, which have not been significantly re-vamped since the 1930s.

The third module of recommendations on the Development Code is expected to be completed in early 2015.